American Family Expresses Love for British Ancestors
Gabe and Amy Chariton, with their children, Ember (17) and Cannon (14) from the United States can’t wait to arrive in Preston, Lancashire UK at the end of July to sing, dance and act in their third British Pageant.
The British Pageant is a large-scale community theatre project that brings together over five hundred volunteers to share a theatrical presentation through acting, dance, and music. It tells the story of the arrival of the first missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who came from America to the UK in 1837 to preach the gospel. People who were converted from all over the United Kingdom, left their homes and travelled to the US to bolster the fledgling church.
The Chariton’s ancestral story is reflected in the story of the British Pageant. Participating in the British Pageant, the family comes full circle, to where their faith and love for the Saviour, Jesus Christ had its origins.
Amy is the 4th great granddaughter of John Perry and Grace Ann Williams. Born and raised in England, they were members of the United Brethren congregation and worshipped together in the Gadfield Elm chapel, Worcestershire. Wilford Woodruff, a missionary for the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taught the entire congregation and all but one were baptised. On 8 Sept 1840, with strong convictions of the truthfulness of this gospel burning in their hearts, John, Grace, and their five children joined 200 fellow church members on the ship ‘North America’ to the gathering place of this new religion, Nauvoo, Illinois USA.
Amy explained that when her modern-day family saw the Pageant performed in Nauvoo over a decade ago, they recognised the beautiful pioneer spirit there and knew they wanted to be part of it. After applying multiple times, they were accepted as part of the family cast of the Nauvoo and British Pageant to be performed in Nauvoo during 2018.
Remembering that amazing experience, Amy reminisced, “We danced and sang and worked day after day in the hot sun to learn our parts, to be ready to perform. Our kids danced and played music in the country band all while costumed from head to toe in 1840’s pioneer attire. One week of rehearsals and the next week is go time! It’s quite miraculous how it all comes together. I’ll always remember and cherish the feeling of unity we shared as a family.”
In August 2022, they experienced that feeling once again. “Our second Pageant experience was filled with immense fulfilment and joy. As we shared with audience members our testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We saw miracles and felt God’s hand in these interactions. You see, no one comes to Nauvoo by accident. It is ‘out of the way’ so if you find yourself there, you’re meant to be there!”
After learning the British Pageant would be performed on the site of the Preston England Temple in August 2023, the Chariton’s knew they wanted to take part. Amy said, “We can’t get enough of the tender experiences of being involved with the Pageant.” They were accepted as performers in the family cast.
When asked about her experience, Ember, (17 years old) reflected, “Hard is good and good things come from hard things. In the pioneers’ case, leaving was hard but it was worth it. In our case, it’s hot and tiring and hard but it has been so, so good. The Lord loves to see our effort.” Cannon (14) said, “Something I have taken away from my experience is Jesus loves all of us and he is a God of miracles. He heals and helps us with the little things in our lives if we have faith.”
The Chariton family is once again looking forward to feeling the unity of spirit and the joy of performing in the British Pageant 2023. Amy expressed it perfectly when she said, “As we reflect on our early family heritage, we’re in awe and grateful for the faith and courage of our British ancestors. In a way, their story is our family’s story.”
The Pageant will take place on the site of the Preston, England Temple in a special theatre built for this event with a capacity of 1,700 people. Everyone is welcome. Dates of the Pageant are 1-5 and 8-12 August 2023. Tickets are free of charge.